Thursday, June 26, 2008

Do domain names even matter anymore?

I was reading this article in the NY Times this morning: Expanding the Internet Well Beyond .com, and I got to wondering...

An Internet oversight agency is considering the first sweeping changes in the network’s addressing system since its creation 25 years ago.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, closing weeklong meetings in Paris, was scheduled Thursday to consider proposals for streamlining new domain name suffixes.

The new guidelines could lead to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Internet addresses to join “.com,” including “.lat” for Latin America and a Bulgarian address in the Cyrillic script. New names will not start appearing for at least several months, and the Internet agency, called Icann, will not be deciding on specific ones quite yet.

Does the URL or domain name even matter anymore? With the number of people coming to sites directly down in the single digits and shrinking, maybe all that money people spent purchasing domain names was unnecessary? We are seeing the marketing of URLs coming to an end./p>

Might be hard for the small sites who don't command any unique keywords-- but that's the new reality. Maybe it's time to just start using IP numbers and forget domain names altogether?

3 comments:

Bud said...

Are people unaware of the domain they click through to on search? A few suggestions that they are not:

1. Look at Google AdWords. The display URL is one whole line of the 4 line ad.

2. Think about your own behavior. Do you consider the site you are clicking on or its domain name. I personally do, but it's an open question.

I guess my bottom line is that the domain name is part of the message a site or a link to a site contains. Therefore, still important.

Part of how I have read your last couple of posts is that I agree with the observation that things like homepages and domain names have really changed. I brought up my homepage argument to a search marketing exec, and she agreed with you about homepage neglect. Would not get rid of the homepage though.

Kevin Gamble said...

Good questions.

I pay attention to the link text but rarely the site. Most of the time I'm not sure I know where I'm going. I think this is because I'm almost always going to a piece of information and not a site. Don't know what the ratio might be but I do mostly click through to sites from my feedreader, friendfeed, twitter. It's almost always socially mediated.

To be honest, I know that I have pushed the "extreme" in the last two posts and don't necessarily completely buy-in myself. :) I just think they are things to consider, and that we need to think about where we are spending our time and money. We spend a lot of energy focusing on things that have little ROI. For example, people will labor over navigation, and use all sorts of expensive IT resources, but these are not things generally used by the visitors to the site. Yet, the things that really do matter to visitors often go ignored. So my posts in reality are about priorities and where we place the focus of scarce resources.

So I do agree with you, I'm mostly trying to focus some "light" on the idea that we shouldn't place so much importance on these things now that we are seeing user behavior change so dramatically.

Bud said...

Kevin, I find your posts on these topics provocative and stimulating. Our school just went through a site redesign in which the big innovation was to get all departments listed on the home page. There's a gate keeper for updates. In other words, an expensive brochure site.

On my own, I've gone out and started a non-profit designed to be highly visible to search traffic, and every thing we do is designed to enhance that. We have a homepage mainly because we get a lot of direct traffic (20%+) from business cards we hand out, etc. However, most people come from search, and we're trying to figure out how to capitalize on that.

Most of my reactions to your posts have come from this experience.